With all the glories of the cups now behind us for another few days we can settle down to the mundane drudgery of the leagues? Are ye kidding? There are some cracking ties this weekend in all 3 of the lower leagues, let me tempt you…
Match of the Day
Heart of Midlothian v Falkirk
The Jambos are in fine fettle having despatched Raith Rovers last weekend 4-0 and then progressing in the Scottish Communities League Cup against Stenhousemuir at Ochilview midweek. Robbie Neilson’s side have settled well and only the wee blip of a young side being sent out of the Petrofac Training Cup 4-0 by Livingston has upset their rhythm. Falkirk have had one hell of a start to the league campaign; local rivals Cowdenbeath, Rangers, Hibs and now Hearts was nobody’s dream start. Midweek they got past the Blue Brazil on penalties, having drawn with them in the league at the beginning of this campaign. They then lost to Rangers in their second league game but got a very decent 3 points last weekend against Hibernian. For the Bairns they shall continue to be without Kieran Duffie, Lewis Small and Thomas Grant though Botti Biabi will be able to play. Connor McGrandles’ transfer to Norwich is a massive blow to Falkirk as he was such an influential player but Rory Loy, Craig Sibbald and David McCracken shall probably start for them. Hearts will not have Neil Alexander, Scott Gallacher, Dale Carrick or Callum Paterson but Jordan McGhee and James Keatings are fit and raring to go. I would like to think Falkirk will push the big three this year but I do think the confidence round Tynecastle will get Hearts through this one.
Alloa Athletic v Hibernian has two sides having had mixed fortunes over the last 7 days. For the Wasps they beat Cowdenbeath on Saturday and then fell out the Scottish Communities League Cup against Hamilton Academical. Hibs lost to Falkirk and then beat Dumbarton in the final minute in the cup. I reckon Alan Stubbs’ side will shade it today. Cowdenbeath v Raith Rovers has two sides that many think shall be swimming at the bottom of the league this season. Both lost last weekend and then fell out the cup midweek so neither are doing much to dispel that theory. For me an away win is the most likely finish today.
Dumbarton v Livingston sees the woes of the Sons returning home after losing there to Rangers last Saturday and then losing a heart breaking tie against Hibs midweek at Easter Road. The Lions drew with Queen of the South last Saturday and then beat them in the cup midweek after extra time. I reckon the exertions of the midweek cup tie will go against them and it’s going to be a home win for Dumbarton. Rangers v Queen of the South has the home side, having thumped Dumbarton at the Bet Butler Stadium last weekend, had their scare at Queen’s Park midweek in fine fettle for today’s visitors to Ibrox. The Doonhamers drew then lost to Livingston in a league and cup double and will relish playing on the big stage in Glasgow but are likely to be doomed whilst on it…
Match of the Day
Brechin City v Peterhead
This may not be many people’s pick of the ties this weekend in League One but for me it is between two highly competitive teams who need to get their seasons going. Neither had midweek games and Brechin were hauled back to a draw against Stranraer last weekend whilst the Blue Toon lost to Morton. The home side shall not have loanee Jamie Masson as his loan period looks in doubt whilst Alan Trouten is seriously doubtful. Jim McInally’s side have no Ryan McCann, Rory McAllister or Fraser McLaren whilst there are doubts surrounding Reece Donaldson. With so many key Peterhead figures out, Ray McKinnon should be holding on to 3 points at a quarter to five today.
Airdrieonians v Stirling Albion has a home side that needs a win badly and lost again last weekend to Dunfermline Athletic. The Binos won a 9 goal thriller against Stenhousemuir and will need to dig deep again today as I reckon Airdrie will start their league campaign in earnest. Forfar Athletic v Greenock Morton sees the team that lost to Ayr United last weekend up against a team that beat Peterhead in the league and then lost narrowly to Partick Thistle midweek in the Scottish Communities League Cup. Jim Duffy’s side look a handful and I reckon they will walk away with 3 points.
Stenhousemuir v Ayr United sees the league leaders on their travels after having beaten Forfar last week and then going out of the cup after a great display against Kilmarnock. The Warriors lost that titanic 9 goal thriller with Stirling Albion before Hearts dumped them in the Cup. For me an away win but it might be tricky. Finally Stranraer v Dunfermline Athletic sees a home side that drew with Brechin City in the league before losing out to Ross County, just, in the cup. The Pars beat Airdrie then scared St Mirren in the cup before losing out. I reckon this fixture will see Jim Jeffries’ side manage a decent win on the road today.
Match of the Day
Arbroath v Montrose
This looks like it shall be a decent tie as both won last weekend and are showing relatively decent form. For the Red Lichties their campaign couldn’t have started better and their 2-0 win against Queen’s Park proves they have the desire for this campaign. Montrose beat Annan Athletic by the same margin and have begun the campaign in fine enough fettle that they should cause the home side problems this afternoon. Whilst this shall be tricky I reckon Arbroath will have enough at home to win.
Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park sees the Wee Rovers who beat East Fife last time out against a Queen’s Park side who lost to Arbroath in the league and then Rangers in the cup. The Spiders gave Rangers a shock midweek and may just snatch 3 points today. Annan Athletic v Elgin City has a home side that lost to Montrose last weekend facing an Elgin side that beat Clyde. It should mean Elgin will win this but I reckon Jim Chapman’s side will come good at some time and today looks as good a day as any…
Clyde v Berwick Rangers has a Clyde side that lost last weekend entertaining a Borderer’s team that put 5 past East Stirlingshire. They won’t find the Bully Wee in such a charitable mood and I reckon Barry Ferguson v Colin Cameron will fall in favour of the home side. East Fife v East Stirlingshire already has the look of a basement battle. The Shire need points and some form of hope or this could be the season they fall out of the league structure. The Fifers are also in danger of ending up in the wrong battle. If East Stirlingshire can stop the goals going in they have a shout; if not the Fifers shall take all 3 points.